Bali Gay Travel
Bali gay travel recommendations based on first-hand experience. Hotels, where to stay, gay nightlife & local culture.
The Gay Travel Experience: Bali, Indonesia
I can guarantee that traveling to Bali will be everything you’ve ever hoped it would be. Impressive tranquility, famous countryside attractions and a gentile culture are some of the reasons travelers adore this Southeast Asian island.
Gay life in Bali is more prevalent than anywhere else in Indonesia. Why is that? It has to do with the local religion! This whimsical island of Bali is notably different from the rest of Indonesia it’s one of the only areas where Hinduism is practiced. So, gay life here fares much better.
Locals specifically practice Balinese-Hinduism, called Agama Hindu Dharma. The iconic charming religious offerings these people place on the streets and in their homes are beyond beautiful. As a gay traveler, it’s just one more reason to love Bali.
Bali has experienced explosive tourism over the past decade and it is no longer an island known to few. For context, Bali is building a brand-new airport to cope with the intense traffic around Denpasar.
Knowing this, you should tread carefully to avoid tourist traps and use this guide to explore the best of Bali.
You can still visit authentic attractions in Bali. In this gay guide I’ll cover where you should stay, lesser-known spots as well as some attractions LGBT tourists love.
Gay Bali: Hotels & Where to Stay
Before choosing where to stay in Bali, remember that you will arrive at Denpasar Airport, which is in the south. This is where the majority of tourism is concentrated.
I’ll discuss where to stay here in south Bali first, and then move on to central and northern Bali hotels. You should know that each area of the island has a completely different vibe.
Where to Stay in South Bali
I highly recommend staying in hotels in Jimbaran. The Jimbaran area is quieter and comprised of mainly resorts. Beaches are much more tranquil as compared to neighboring neighborhoods like Kuta to the north.
I stayed a few nights at the Four Seasons Jimbaran while in south Bali. Without a doubt, it was the most magical hotels I have ever stayed in.
They have every single detail perfected for their guests. It made for quite a majestic setting for me my boyfriend Michael on our first vacation as a couple.
Budget travelers often stay in downtown Kuta hotels for a few nights since it’s centrally located. I stayed in the Kuta area for a few days while exploring more of south Bali. Kuta is much busier and probably has the cheapest accommodations in all of Bali.
I must warn you, though. Kuta is a tourist center and it is not so authentic. It takes a lot for me to dislike an area, but walking around Kuta was incredibly frustrating.
Constantly bombarded by men asking if I wanted to rent a motorbike or receive a massage, I found myself avoiding the town center at all costs.
Guesthouses & Resorts in North/Central Bali
Ubud is a fantastic and hugely popular place to stay in central Bali. You can find relative seclusion here, with the convenience of a vibrant central town.
I stayed in an adorable guest house called Bali Home 68. It was super affordable and only a five-minute walk to the town’s main road.
If I had more time, I would have spent it further north on the island. I’d definitely book one of those jaw-dropping retreats in Kubutambahan that completely integrate with the natural surroundings.
Kubutambahan vacation rentals are another fantastic options to find beautiful and authentic Balinese accommodations in the north of the island.
Given north Bali is harder to get to, it is far less traveled, perfect for an authentic and serene place to stay.
Bali Gay Travel Experiences
Visit one of the larger temples near you in the early evening if you happen to be in Bali during a full moon or new moon. You’ll experience some large local celebrations during which women dress up in even more gorgeous traditional Balinese outfits. Cheerful locals flood the streets!
Cruise Around On A Motorbike
I absolutely loved hopping on a motorbike and driving as much of Bali as I could. This is a super cute idea for gay couples in Bali. Grab you lover and take in a scenic drive. The farther north you go, the more romantic it will be.
Things to Do in South Bali (& What to Avoid)
Head to Dewi Sri Food Center for cheap, tasty local food! This place is filled with locals each evening. Try some pork belly, Chicken Satay and other Southeast Asian mainstays.
South Bali Beaches (And Ones to Avoid)
Jimbaran Bay is the go-to spot for beachgoers in south Bali. Full transparency: the water is not blue! Although there’s nothing wrong with the beaches here in the least, I would not say that Bali tops the list of best beach destinations.
Gay travelers will be much happier making good use of a private pool in their hotel or resort. This is what we’re all yearning for, right? Get one of those floating breakfast trays and treat yourself like a queen!
Avoid Kuta Beach at all costs. I truly wonder why tourists come here. It is filled with trash and aggressive children trying to sell bracelets.
Instead, I recommend Pantai Plix, a spot where the locals hang! About 30 minutes south of Kuta, you can enjoy this small cliff with a serene view.
Pantai Plix is not swimmable because waves crash along a rock formation. However, the algae and ponds of water in the sand are very cool! Although it’s a little gritty and treacherous, it’s definitely an authentic experience.
Things to Do in Ubud & Central Bali
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Bali rice terraces are a staple of touring the island. I visited Tegalalang Rice Terrace, a 20-minute drive north of the Ubud town center. Stunning can’t even describe this place, which is probably why everyone makes a point to get here.
Take A Coffee Break at Namaskara
I quickly became a regular at Namaskara Coffee, an absolutely adorable café in Central Ubud. They have authentic Balinese food, fast Wi-Fi, and stellar cappuccinos. Definitely order the red sticky rice in hot coconut milk with mango & banana. I got it three days in a row!
Browse Handcrafted Furniture
Central Bali is home to hundreds of wood carving and handcrafted-furniture shops. Balinese wood carving goes back many centuries, too. It’s a huge tradition in the Ubud region. There’s no better memento for a gay couple than a handcrafted piece from Ubud!
Shopping in Ubud
There are many boutique shops in Central Ubud selling high quality clothing and often decorative home items. I grabbed some awesome shorts from Lost In Paradise.
Bali Gay Bars
You’ll find most nightlife, including the gay bars, clustered together on a street called Jalan Camplung Tanduk. This area is just north of downtown Kuta. All three officially gay establishments on the island are all adjacent to one another.
Next you have Mixwell Bar Bali, which has a colorful interior and also hosts many show nights. Lastly, F Bar is a little more intimate, with most patrons arriving after midnight!
I personally didn’t visit the Bali gay bars since it was raining every night. (I was there during the wet season). Plus, I preferred to explore the island’s wonderful nature.
I do know however that the gay bars in Bali are not exactly the most popular with tourists. So if you’re headed to one, I’d expect you encounter mostly locals.
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Bali Gay Travel Tips
Sharing a bed in a single room should be no problem for gay couples in Bali. Many resorts, especially western hotels, will recognize and accommodate you as they would anyone else.
Bali is predominantly a cash-only society (at least as of 2018 when I visited). I actually learned this the hard way after losing my debit card. Especially while in Ubud and the north of the island, make sure you have enough cash handy and ideally carry a backup debit card.
The Best Season for Bali Gay Travel?
I visited Bali during the rainy season and I still loved it! Wet season in Bali is from October to April. The rest of the months are relatively dry. Even during the wet season, there are still some clear days.
If you can afford to spend more time in Bali, the rainy season is perfectly fine. Mornings in the rainy season are pretty much always rain-free. After sunset, rain is common.
Don’t forget to buy a durable rain-proof poncho before your trip. This will definitely come in handy. Locals carry these everywhere and o many tourists get caught without them!
Local Religious Offerings
Here’s a great taxi driver conversation starter! Ask them about how they make their daily offering baskets, called Canang sari. Your driver will gladly talk about his local religion and how it is so unique.
Locals create these precious creations to show gratitude. Without a doubt, you will see them everywhere around Bali. They are commonly filled with flowers, rice, fruit and sometimes coins. People typically place them three times a day, every day .
Using Taxis in Bali
When getting a taxi at the airport, use the curbside registered local taxi stand. They will give you the cheapest price. The storefront inside the airport will charge you triple the fair price and the local guys standing by the exit will charge you at least double.
Just for reference, a ride from Jimbaran/Denpasar to Ubud costed me 300,000 Rupiah (in 2018) and it is about an hour and 30-minute drive, depending on traffic. A ride from the airport to Jimbaran should be 150,000.
Indonesia Gay Life
The Aceh and Palembang local governments specifically criminalize homosexuality, as they operate under stricter local Islamic law. These areas of Indonesia are becoming increasingly harsh as they pass laws that criminalize the LGBT community. Local Islamic organizations seek out and prosecute any homosexual activity.
Indonesian cities such as Jakarta experience numerous raids on places where gay individuals are thought to congregate. Dozens were detained in 2020 in a raid of a Jakarta gay party. Many LGBT citizens face arrests and harsh punishments for being themselves.
Human rights organizations rightly denounced the many atrocities involving LGBT citizens that have taken place in Indonesia over recent years.
Bali specifically is not anti-gay. As mentioned in the beginning of this guide, people here have much more liberal beliefs, stemming from their Balinese-Hindu practices.
Although the Indonesian government still does not provide any specific discrimination protections, the gay community is well-tolerated in Bali.